Internet Safety


1. Don’t give temptation a chance. If you receive an e-mail that promotes sweepstakes, lotteries, charities, credit repair, work-at-home offers, or a Nigerian letter, delete the e-mail without opening it, or forward the e-mail to the Federal Trade Commission at

2. Never give any personal information to anyone who contacts you.  Delete the e-mail and then contact the company using a phone number or website address that you know to be authentic. 

REMEMBER: Credit card companies, banks and other financial institutions, and government agencies (IRS, Social Security, etc.) will NEVER ask for personal information or ask you to update your account information on-line.

3. Beef Up Your Security.  Personal firewalls and security software packages (with anti-virus, anti-spam, and spyware detection features) are a must-have for those who engage in on-line financial transactions. Make sure your computer has the latest security patches, and make sure that you access your on-line accounts only on a secure web page using encryption. The website address of a secure website connection starts with "https" instead of just "http" and has a key or closed padlock in the status bar (which typically appears in the lower right-hand corner of your screen).

4. Use Your Own Computer. It's generally safer to access your on-line accounts from your own computer than from other computers. If you use a computer other than your own, for example, you won't know if it contains viruses or spyware. If you do use another computer, be sure to delete all of the your "Temporary Internet Files" and clear all of your "History" after you log off your account.

5. Never post identifying information about you or your family on your personal website.

6. When making purchases on-line, deal only with reputable, well-established companies that you know.  Remember that on-line shopping is not different than shopping off-line.  You will find reputable and disreputable businesses in both worlds.

7. When making on-line purchases, never give your credit card or other personal information unless you are on a secure website.  The URL, or website address, should begin with "https” (instead of the normal "http”), and a padlock symbol should appear in the lower corner of the screen. 

8. Always use a credit card when making on-line purchases.  Never pay with cash, a check or money order because in a fraudulent transaction, you have very little hope of getting your money back.  With a credit card your limit of liability by law is $50.00, and many credit card companies offer zero liability. 

9. Never give your bank account number or Social Security Number to any on-line merchant.

10. Use a low-limit credit card for on-line shopping, and check your bank and credit card statements for unauthorized charges as soon as they arrive.  Better yet, set up your accounts so that you can view them over the Internet at any time.

11. Be suspicious of demanding messages.  Don’t be "spooked” into responding quickly before you have time to verify the source of the message.

12. Don’t open any e-mail attachments unless you absolutely know who sent it.

13. Don’t click the "remove me” icon when you receive an unwanted e-mail.  In many cases that is only there to alert the sender that your address is an active one.  Instead of stopping those unwanted e-mails, you will only get more.

14.  If you store information on your laptop computer, use a "strong” password to protect that information.  Strong passwords are a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.  Never use:

  • Your mother’s maiden name.
  • The names of your children.
  • Your date of birth.
  • Your address.
  • Any portion of your Social Security Number.

15. Don’t use the automatic login feature, which saves your user name and password – type it in each time you use the computer. 

16. Always log off each time you are finished.  If your laptop is stolen, the thief will have to work harder to get access to the information stored there.

17. Don’t let on-line businesses store your account information.  It may be an inconvenience, but you are much safer typing your information in each time you place an order.

18. Before disposing of a computer, use a software package called a "wipe” utility program to remove all information on the hard drive.  Deleting files using the mouse or keyboard still leaves the files in a state where they may be retrieved.